Sitting at the Shabbat meal on Saturday morning, I had to make a difficult decision — which cream cheese to put on my homemade bagel. It typically wouldn’t be a difficult decision, as I’ll always pick garlic-dill, but this time, the garlic-dill cream cheese was too watery. It didn’t look right. I took my chances…
After having an upset stomach on Shabbat, I did not sleep well Saturday night. I woke up Sunday extremely tired with a headache. Blaming the headache on lack of coffee and dehydration, I started my morning. After an hour or so, I took my temperature — 37.7 (Celsius). Hardly a fever, but I cancelled my meetings and decided to stay home, just in case. My fever didn’t move much from there, and I wasn’t concerned, but at around 6 p.m., I received a text from a colleague, “I tested positive for corona.”
I immediately called the doctor who ordered a test. He told me that I must stay in a room separate from my family, that my family must also stay in quarantine, and that I must keep my phone nearby to answer the call to schedule my coronavirus test. Waiting anxiously for the phone to ring, I fell asleep. After waking up with no fever (thank God), I received a phone call:
“Hi, this is Shirley from the health fund, is this Aaron Fruchtman?”
“Yes,” I muttered.
“I am on the line to schedule your test appointment…”
She asked where I lived and proceeded to tell me a few locations that I could take the test. I soon realized that they weren’t drive-throughs, but actual laboratories that I would have to get out of the car and go inside to get tested. She also mentioned to me that I could take public transportation! I quickly asked her where the drive-through was and scheduled my appointment there. The drive-through was excellent, and I went for the test a couple hours after the call.
Knowing that my colleague tested positive, I had already notified anyone that I was close contact with to make sure that they strictly adhere to the Ministry of Health’s guidelines regarding masks and social distancing in case my test came back positive.
Checking my phone hourly to see if the test results came back, finally at about 4:15 p.m. the next day, the results flashed across the screen, positive. I immediately called the doctor’s office. The secretary said, “The doctor will call you back.” I told her, “The doctor sent me to take a coronavirus test, and it came back positive.” “I’ll put you right through,” she answered. The doctor double-checked the test — positive. About 20 minutes later I got a call from a nurse at the Ministry of Health. She started asking about my schedule, and I asked her how long previously she needs to trace. She told me 12 days. After listening to 2 or 3 of my days, she asked for my wife and kid’s names and got off the phone. It must have been the end of her shift, or maybe I am really boring! To judge her favorably, I did tell her that I have already been in touch with everyone that I was in contact with.
Next came my wife and kids’ test or so I thought. It’s not so simple to get a test. I was told that they have to stay in quarantine for 2 weeks from the last time that they were near me, and if they have any symptoms they should call to get tested. When the nurse from the health fund told me the symptoms for testing, 38.5 fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath, I commented that I didn’t have those symptoms. She replied, “OK.” Uh…
My kid’s schools want to know if the kids are positive and reasonably so. Kids can be carriers without symptoms. The doctor was able to authorize tests by claiming that my family was feeling sick, but testing can only be done at the drive through. If I want them to come to the house to test, it will take days for them to come, and days for us to get the test back, if we do. The bottom line is that you really can’t get tested at home.
Today, another person in the synagogue where I pray was diagnosed with the coronavirus, him and his wife. It’s pretty clear that I didn’t give it to them since they were both diagnosed only one day after me. The Ministry of Health decided to close the synagogue and require all attendees who prayed there on Shabbat to go into quarantine (even though the attendees all wore masks). To the best of my knowledge, they did not assess the size of the synagogue, the amount of people in attendance, or the distance between attendees. Two people were sick in the same shul, put everyone in quarantine. Don’t worry, their kids are all still going to school and passing the coronavirus around without even knowing it.
The point of my story is to illustrate that it’s pretty clear that The Ministry of Health has no control over the situation. Our best bet is to pray that the Italian doctors are right in their assessment that the coronavirus has weakened drastically from two months ago, because in Israel, the situation is getting out of control.